School of Computing


Towards a Universal Biological-Cell Operating System (AUdACiOuS)

A living cell, e.g. a bacterium, is an information-processing machine. It is composed of a series of sub-systems that work in concert by sensing external stimuli, assessing its own internal states and making decisions through a network of complex and interlinked biological regulatory networks (BRN) motifs that act as the bacterium neural network. A bacterium's decision making processes often result in a variety of outputs, e.g. the creation of more cells, chemotaxis, bio-film formation, etc. It was recently shown that cells not only react to their environment but that they can even predict environmental changes. The emerging discipline of Synthetic Biology (SB), considers the cell to be a machine that can be built -from parts- in a manner similar to, e.g., electronic circuits, airplanes, etc. SB has sought to co-opt cells for nano-computation and nano-manufacturing purposes. During this leadership fellowship programme of research I will aim at making E.coli bacteria much more easily to program and hence harness for useful purposes. In order to achieve this, I plan to use the tools, methodologies and resources that computer science created for writing computer programs and find ways of making them useful in the microbiology laboratory.